On the surface, yesterday’s 3-0 defeat at Grimsby Town should be cause for alarm. In truth it merely reinforced the shortcomings we’ve all known about with this squad long before now.
Up front, we’ll do just fine – better in fact if the club’s alternatives to Craig Mackail-Smith prove fruitful (and the club is immediately on the case). The performances of Jon Stead and Kyle De Silva were a joy to watch, each having their way with Grimsby’s defence at will. Defensively however, we’re short. But not so desperately that we should be looking over our shoulders thinking we’re there for the taking when our League Two campaign starts in on August 7th away at Stevenage.
For instance, Haydn Hollis (visibly bereft of confidence) playing at left-back simply won’t happen. The trialist wearing number 13 in the second half will hopefully have been made to walk wherever home is. And what of Alan Smith? For me he’s played better at centre-back than I’d have perhaps previously have given him credit for – but that doesn’t mean he’d be in my first XI if we can avoid it.
Of course, news that Justin Hoyte had rejected Notts’ offer only served to extenuate the reaction in defeat. Right-back is another position that right now is among the priorities, assuming Ricardo Moniz still intends on using Gill Swerts in the centre of midfield alongside Rob Milsom as he had earlier this Summer and not reverting him to the right back spot. Mawouna Amevor has filled in admirably at right-back, but the hope it surely that he’ll be partnering someone in the centre of defence.
When Ray Trew is going on Notts Mad however to make a point that if needs be he’ll gut the entire back four to get it right (exaggeration for effect of course, but you know it’s a line that he’ll be reminded of it at every juncture), you know the club is aware of the issues surrounding it’s first team squad.
Defeat yesterday was painfully limp. Two horrendously conceded goals undid the good work that was going on with Notts forward line, at which point all of Notts’ tempo went out the window and you could visibly see them taking it down a good few levels. Of course that’s disappointing, but in just a few weeks no one will remember it, and it highlights the danger of playing pre-season games in front of paying supporters.
Factor in travel, match tickets, programmes and refreshments and the costs start to rise, and all for what is little more than a glorified training session. It works both ways of course, after all if these were played behind closed doors we’d all be in the dark as to the quality of the players brought in this Summer. But when you’re going out of your way to the tune of three or four hours on a roundtrip, you’re going to expect a certain level of competitiveness.